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Original: It was a dark autumn night. The old banker was walking up and down his study and remembering how, fifteen years before, he ...

Could you possibly show me which one is correct grammatically? and is there any difference between them semantically?

A. The old banker was walking up and down in his study

B. The old banker was walking up and down at his study

C. The old banker was walking up and down his study

  • I cannot see your answers, it seems they are removed!! – nima Jun 14 '15 at 17:40
  • I wrote an answer here that might be helpful for distinguishing at and in in this context. – Ben Kovitz Jun 14 '15 at 22:08
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The word - study - in this sense collocates with in and not with at. So your sentence #B is not possible.

~ B. The old banker was walking up and down at his study. [INCORRECT]

A. The old banker was walking up and down in his study.

This sentence (#A) is correct. up and down is an adverbial phrase indicating how the action is being performed. And preposition in is connecting the action to the place where the action is taking place - the study.

C. The old banker was walking up and down his study.

This is also a correct sentence. up and down here indicates how and where the action is taking place. It's a preposition here.

Both sentence #A and #C are correct and mean the same thing.

up and down is a phrase meaning forward and backward. It can be used as an adverb as well as a preposition.

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According to Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary:

"The preposition 'in' emphasises 'inside a place'. for example: Mum doesn't like people wearing their shoes in the house

The preposition 'at' is used to talk about time spent at a place. for example:

We had a really good time at your house last weekend.

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A is most correct because you generally do something 'in' a room.

B no one would ever say. You don't do something 'at' are room. The exception would be if there is a direct or indirect reference to being at the door or the room being the closest in proximity.

C is technically correct, but the missing preposition is noticeable and that makes it a bit ambiguous.

  • How does this serve its purpose as an answer better than when it's a comment? – M.A.R. ಠ_ಠ Jun 14 '15 at 18:49
  • @M.A.Ramezani It's better as an answer than as a comment because people can vote it up or down, and people can comment specifically on it here. – Ben Kovitz Jun 14 '15 at 19:18
  • @Ben - Well, what I meant was that this is hardly going to be beneficial to the OP. They might even get more confused: Why? Why must A be correct? I've seen a lot of comments with more quality and information than this answer. – M.A.R. ಠ_ಠ Jun 14 '15 at 19:20
  • @M.A.Ramezani Indeed, I'm thinking of downvoting it. :) – Ben Kovitz Jun 14 '15 at 19:23
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    Edited. Funny how a bad answer generates to most interest...:) – Johns-305 Jun 14 '15 at 20:23

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